How does a referee approach the biggest rivalry in CONCACAF, USA vs. Mexico? This is the biggest game on our continent anytime these two teams clash. They say this is an international friendly but we as referees know there is no such this as a “friendly” in soccer. The referee for this game Carlos Batres from Guatemala and he will have his hands full. He will have to use his many years of experience so this game will be enjoyed by all. This is not a new test for the referee as he last referees this match in the 2007 Gold Cup final.
We all know what this game means to both countries as preparation continues for World Cup qualifying. Mexico is bringing in a winless streak into the game when playing against the U.S. The U.S. MNT is 8-0-1 against Mexico in the last 9 meetings on U.S. soil. Yes, you read that correctly and tonight the game is in Houston, Texas. Does that mean it will be a sure win for the U.S.? NO! This is why the games are played. It will be a hard fought match by both nations.
From a referees stand point these are all things that we think about as we prepare for the task ahead. We have to realize that the atmosphere will be electrifying. The referee has to know that the speed of the game will be fast with good skill being displayed. Both managers have called in experienced players from Europe that are in mid-season form. When going into such a hostile event you must prepare yourself not only physically but also mentally. This is vital for the referee team to be successful.
Not any referee can referee this match tonight. But, Mr. Batres has a great deal of experience when is comes to this CONCACAF classic. The teams know him well and know that his will be ready for the challenge. He is a seasoned veteran not only in CONCACAF but with FIFA.
Good luck to him! And check back for my thoughts on the game in the next couple days.
Ricardo Salazar – U.S. Full-Time Referee